At the Jazz Band Ball

At the Jazz Band Ball : Sixty Years on the Jazz Scene

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Nat Hentoff, renowned jazz critic, civil liberties activist, and fearless contrarian - 'I'm a Jewish atheist civil-libertarian pro-lifer' - has lived through much of jazz's history and has known many of jazz's most important figures, often as friend and confidant. Hentoff has been a tireless advocate for the neglected parts of jazz history, including forgotten sidemen and women. This volume includes his best recent work - short essays, long interviews, and personal recollections. From Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong to Ornette Coleman and Quincy Jones, Hentoff brings the jazz greats to life and traces their art to gospel, blues, and many other forms of American music. "At the Jazz Band Ball" also includes Hentoff's keen, cosmopolitan observations on a wide range of issues. The book shows how jazz and education are a vital partnership, how free expression is the essence of liberty, and how social justice issues like health care and strong civil rights and liberties keep all the arts - and all members of society - strong.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 25mm | 590g
  • Berkerley, United States
  • English
  • 0520261135
  • 9780520261136
  • 948,327

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"Nat Hentoff may very well be the foremost jazz historian in the world because he was there to witness firsthand the music's evolution from big band and swing to fusion and bossa nova; and to dive into the souls of the men and women who created it from Ellington, Basie, Miles, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington, among many others. At the Jazz Band Ball: Sixty Years on the Jazz Scene is an invaluable archive of not only the musical influence of America's only indigenous music on the world, but its enormous impact as an engine for social change as well. It is a book that should be read by every young musician, music fan, and educator in America."--Quincy Jones

"The very best witnesses in the worlds of the law, aesthetic evaluation, social contexts of imposing significance, and artistic public performance are those who accurately understand what they have seen or what they are seeing. Nat Hentoff has been and continues to be a star witness in every one of those arenas. One of the greatest contributions of his jazz writing is that he has never felt the need to condescend to black people or to let the dictates of sociology diminish the universal significance of what they do when they do it well. Nat knows that so many jazz musicians have done what they do superbly, quite often expressing themselves beyond the narrows of color. As sensitive to the Americana of jazz as he is to its transcendent revelations about the sound of the human heart, Nat Hentoff is part of our American luck."--Stanley Crouch

"At the Jazz Band Ball is full of nuggets from Nat's rich lode of wit and wisdom, gleaned in a lifetime of fellowship with jazz and its makers."--Dan Morgenstern, Director, Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University; author of Living With Jazz: A Reader
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Table of contents

Contents Foreword by Lewis Porter Acknowledgments Introduction Part One. What Am I Here For? The Rules of My Jazz Odyssey 1. Who Owns Jazz? 2. My Debt to Artie Shaw 3. The Family of Jazz 4. Beyond the Process 5. Playing Changes on Jazz Interviews Part Two. In the Presence of Ellington 6. Inside the Ellington Band 7. Duke Ellington's Posthumous Revenge 8. Essentially Duke (and Wynton) 9. Ellington's Band Is Heavenly in These "Live" Forties Recordings Part Three. Jazz Credentials 10. Is Jazz Black Music? 11. No One Else Sounded Like "Pee Wee" Russell 12. Just Call Him Thelonious 13. Remembering Dizzy 14. Oscar Peterson: A Jazz "Behemoth" Moves On 15. A Great Night in Providence for Jazz and Snow 16. The Perfect Jazz Club 17. Anita O'Day: The Life of a Music Legend 18. The Music of the 1930s Is Back in Full Swing 19. The Expansive Jazz Journey of Marian McPartland 20. Going Inside Jazz with Wynton Part Four. The Jazz Life On and Off the Road 21. Memories Are Made of This: A Conversation with Clark Terry 22. Man, I'm So Lucky to Be a Jazz Musician: Phil Woods 23. Conventional Unwisdom about Jazz Part Five. Who Is a Jazz Singer? 24. Are Krall and Monheit Jazz Singers? 25. Billie Holiday, Live: A Biography in Music 26. This Daughter of Jazz Is One Cool Cat 27. The Springtime of Frank Sinatra 28. Sinatra Sings in Vegas, and You Are There 29. She's on the Road to Renown 30. Bing and Guests Swing on the Air Part Six. The Life Force of the Music 31. The Joyous Power of Black Gospel Music 32. The Healing Power of Jazz 33. Old Country Jewish Blues and Ornette Coleman 34. The Jewish Soul of Willie "The Lion" Smith Part Seven. Finding the First Amendment Groove 35. Satchmo's Rap Sheet 36. The Constitution of a Jazzman 37. How Jazz Helped Hasten the Civil Rights Movement 38. The Congressman from the Land of Jazz 39. Jazz Musicians in the Public Square 40. Quincy Jones--Past, Present and Future Part Eight. Roots 41. King Oliver in the Groove(s) 42. Giants at Play 43. Barrelhouse Chuck Goering Keeps the Blues Alive 44. Jazz's History Is Living in Queens ... 45. Uncovering Jazz Trails 46. Expanding the Map Part Nine. The Survivors 47. The Thoreau of Jazz 48. A Living Memory of Dr. Art 49. Barren Days 50. Keeping Jazz--and Its Musicians--Alive 51. In New Orleans, the Saints Are Marching In Again 52. The Beating Heart of Jazz Part Ten. The Regenerators 53. Bridging Generations 54. The Rebirth of the Hot Jazz Violin 55. The Newest Jazz Generation 56. Born in Israel 57. Theo Croker Arrives 58. The Ladies Who Swung the Band 59. Nineteen-Year-Old Saxophonist Verifies Future of Jazz Part Eleven. The Master Teachers 60. A Complete Jazzman 61. The Lifetime Teacher: Jon Faddis 62. A House of Swing--for All Ages 63. Inside the Jazz Experience: Ron Carter 64. These Little Kids Think Coltrane Is Cool Epilogue: My Life Lessons from the Jazz "Souls on Fire" Credits Index
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Review quote

"Hentoff comes off as the cool uncle who weaves fascinating stories about historical figures... His life is jazz history." Downbeat "A celebration of the music and its practitioners and challenges those who would read jazz the last rights." All About Jazz "Reading Hentoff, who personally befriended many of jazz's most legendary creators and has witnessed personally many of its landmark moments, is akin to listening to war stories from a still-sharp old uncle-except that Hentoff's stories are better." Jazz Times "Much like the musicians he loves and admires and who have given him direction in his life, Nat Hentoff has his own voice. It is warmly personal, authoritative, sometimes curmudgeonly." Jja News (Jazz Journalist Assoc) "Hentoff is ... an iconic jazz writer" -- Brian Priestley Jazzwise "Opening doors for listening to and reading about jazz, this book will inform and entertain readers ranging from those who create jazz to neophyte listeners." -- C.M. Weisenberg Choice
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About Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff is an internationally known jazz critic and the only critic ever designated a Jazz Master by the NEA. He is a regular columnist for and the Wall Street Journal, the United Media Newspaper Syndicate, and the Cato Institute, where he is a senior fellow. His many books include Jazz Country; Jazz Is; The Jazz Life; Boston Boy: Growing Up with Jazz and Other Rebellious Passions; Living the Bill of Rights; and the forthcoming Is This America?
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Rating details

22 ratings
4.13 out of 5 stars
5 41% (9)
4 32% (7)
3 27% (6)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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